Brooklyn Nets: 3 takeaways from a hard-fought loss at Toronto

Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Allen (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Allen (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Allen (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

Kawhi Leonard knocked down a pull-up jumper with 4.2 seconds left to lift the Toronto Raptors to a 127-125 win Monday over the Brooklyn Nets.

It was Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley who said the NBA is a “make-or-miss league” and in the closing seconds Monday night, the Brooklyn Nets missed and the Toronto Raptors made.

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Kawhi Leonard canned a pull-up jumper off the glass from the right elbow with 4.2 seconds left to give the Raptors (42-16) a tough 127-125 victory over the Nets (29-29) at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

In a game where neither team held a double-digit lead and featured 16 ties and 11 lead changes, Brooklyn roared back from eight points down with 3:56 remaining to take a three-point lead with 50.2 seconds to go on D’Angelo Russell‘s 3-pointer.

But it was Toronto that got the final five points of the game, tying it on Danny Green‘s 3 with 36.1 seconds to go and winning it on Leonard’s jumper.

Joe Harris, who torched the Raptors for a career-high seven 3-pointers and 22 points in the first half, missed his only shot after intermission, coming up short on a pull-up jumper in the lane with 23.5 seconds left.

After Leonard’s make and a Brooklyn timeout, Russell’s 3-pointer from the right wing was off the mark. Russell made a terrific ball fake that would have left him open against most NBA defenders, but Green — a former All-Defensive selection — hung in well enough to contest the shot.

It was the second straight loss for the Nets and the fifth in their last six games, dropping them back to the .500 mark. Brooklyn maintained its one-game lead over the seventh-place Charlotte Hornets in the Eastern Conference after Charlotte lost on the road to the Indiana Pacers Monday.

The Detroit Pistons beat the Washington Wizards at home to take over sole possession of eighth place in the East, 1½ games behind Brooklyn.

For Toronto, it was its fifth straight win as the Raptors opened a six-game homestand by improving their record at Scotiabank Arena to 23-5, tied for the second-best mark in the NBA behind the Denver Nuggets, who were 23-4 entering Monday’s home game with the Miami Heat.

Harris opened the game on fire, hitting five 3s in the first 7:38 of the game, scoring 15 points in the first quarter as the Nets opened a 29-21 lead.

Both teams heated up in the second quarter, but Leonard scored nine points and the Raptors were 14-for-23 (60.9 percent) in the period to cut the Brooklyn lead to 60-56 at the break.

The game may have turned on a crucial sequence in the final seconds of the third quarter.

Shabazz Napier knocked down a fadeaway jumper to give the Nets a two-for-one opportunity with 31.9 seconds to go in the period.

OG Anunoby tipped in a missed shot for the Raptors to cut the Brooklyn lead to 92-90, then stole the ball from Caris LeVert near halfcourt and tied the game with a fast-break runner to tie it.

Danny Green then stepped in front of Ed Davis‘ inbounds pass, but missed a 3-pointer with a second to go in the quarter.

The Nets shot 52.3 percent (46-for-88) on the night and made 20-of-41 3-pointers (48.8 percent), assisting on 33 of the 46 makes. But they were outrebounded 40-31 and the Raptors had a 14-8 edge in second-chance points.

Toronto surrendered 21 points on 14 turnovers, while Brooklyn gave up 12 points on 15 giveaways. The Raptors were also hot, hitting 54.3 percent overall (50-for-92), but were just 9-for-31 (29 percent) from deep.

Russell scored 24 of his team-high 28 points in the second half for the Nets and also finished with a career-high 14 assists and a team-best seven boards. Harris scored 24 points and Allen Crabbe came off the bench to drop in 22.

Jarrett Allen added 15 points and Napier tossed in 10 in 17 minutes off the bench.

Leonard had a game-high 30 points for Toronto, adding eight assists. Serge Ibaka had 18 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks, Kyle Lowry dropped in 13 points with seven assists and Green finished with three steals.

Marc Gasol, making his home debut for the Raptors after being acquired Thursday from the Memphis Grizzlies, had 26 points in 22 minutes, giving Toronto’s depleted second unit a huge boost. The Nets outscored Toronto in bench points, 47-40.

Brooklyn has one more game before the All-Star break and can enter the break with a better-than-.500 record for the first time since 2012-13 with a win. They visit the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday for a 7 p.m. Eastern tip.

Here are three takeaways from one that got away late in Toronto.